League of Vice Govs invites Lobregat to speak on BBL PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 17 August 2015 14:55

by Jubels Santos

Zamboanga City District 1 Representative Celso L. Lobregat has been sought out anew to speak on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), this time by the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines (LVGP) during its conference on August 15 in Cagayan de Oro City.

The 3-day conference, organized by the LVGP through the Office of Misamis Oriental Vice Governor Jose Mari “Joey” Pelaez, who is the League’s Vice President for Mindanao, in cooperation with MINDA, tackled important issues and concerns affecting Mindanao. Lobregat and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. were the resource speakers on Day 2 where the BBL perspectives for Mindanao was the main subject. House Ad Hoc Committee on the BBL Chairman Rufus Rodriguez was also invited but was not available due to prior commitment.

In his discourse, Lobregat said for the MILF, the passage of the BBL as is and without any changes, is the only alternative to peace but for the MNLF, the abolition of the ARMM and the repeal of RA 9054 is tantamount to the abrogation of the 1996 peace agreement.

He likewise mentioned the letter of MILF Chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim of 29 December 2014 addressed to House Ad Hoc Committee Chair Rodriguez where the MILF leader said his group negotiated its peace agreement with the understanding that it was negotiating with the totality of the Philippine government or “whole of government”, especially since, among other reasons, the Commander-in-Chief powers of the President allows him to bind the whole of government including its different branches.

Lobregat asked what would happen if certain provisions in the draft BBL will be amended, revised, deleted or provisions added in the final version of the BLBAR, will the MILF agree or will it be a “take it or leave it” position, wherein the MILF will say NO and insist on the provision of the FAB, Annexes and CAB, that all agreements have to be implemented and that they will never sign an Exit Document until all agreements are implemented. He emphasized that the Lower House and the Senate have consistently stated that the BBL will not pass as is.

Lobregat discussed that in the proposed BBL (HB 4994) and now substituted by BLBAR (HB 5811), Bangsamoro is used to describe Bangsamoro Government (BLBAR Article I and Article VII), Bangsamoro People (BLBAR Article II), and Bangsamoro Territory/Geographical Area (BLBAR Article III) – 3 of the four elements of a state as laid down in the Montevideo Convention of 1933.

He also mentioned the timeline of the peace process – from the 1976 Tripoli Agreement (Marcos Era), fast forward to the Cory Aquino Government the 1987 Constitution, then the RA 6734, and during the Ramos Administration where President Ramos pursued and concluded the 1996 Final Peace Agreement.

He even quoted a PhilStar article of 11 September 2013 entitled “Nur Misuari as leader of the ARMM and MNLF” which states: “Misuari was quick to complain about the government’s having started its formal talks with the MILF on January 7, 1997, less than four months after he and President Ramos signed the September 2, 1996 GPH-MNLF final truce.”

“The ink of the pen used in the signing of our peace agreement with government has not even dried yet and here’s another peace talks now with another group,” a griping Misuari said then.

He stressed “I am for peace, I am not anti-peace, but we need a Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that is just, fair, acceptable, feasible, and most important, consistent with the Constitution and existing law. I do not want the BBL to end up like the failed MOA-AD that was declared contrary to Law and the Constitution by the Supreme Court.” He said the problem begins when one starts reading, analyzing, understanding the different provisions and its implications, and the title itself says it all. “The BBL seeks to abolish the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), repealing for the purpose RA 9054 and RA 6734.”

The Zamboanga congressman also talked about the Constitution, Constitutionality and the Laws and related issues and mentioned that the Supreme Court (SC) has recently dismissed a petition filed by Rolando Mijares seeking to declare as unconstitutional the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law for being premature. But the SC ordered the government to comment on two separate petitions filed by PHILCONSA and former Negros Oriental representative Jacinto Paras to void the FAB and the CAB, he said.    Likewise, Lobregat further said that comparing the FAB, Annexes, CAB, BBL and BLBAR to the MOA-AD, they are very similar in terms of Concept, Territory, Resources, and Governance. “Almost the same but now is more enhanced and more advanced,” Lobregat said.

Lobregat also tackled issues on the Inland Waters as it relates to Energy. He presented a video during one of the hearings of the Ad Hoc Committee, wherein MinDA Secretary Luwalhati Antonino clearly stated her position on the issue. In the video, Secretary Antonino said that “she’s concerned about the protocol because protocol is the one that determines how much water is released, and if there are two entities determining the protocol, then we have a problem there.” Further in the video, Antonino said that “she is questioning the issue because in Mindanao they don’t want to have a war over water, as there are histories of fightings over water sources. Antonino fully agrees that Mindanao can pay what is due, first to the Region, the Autonomous Region, to the Province, to the Municipality around Lake Lanao, but if somebody has control over the protocol, then that is not very comforting in Mindanao because that is going to be a challenge.”

Lobregat added “with the grant of exclusive powers of the inland waters (Lake Lanao) and since utilization of these waters shall primary be for the benefit of the people in the Bangsamoro, in terms of electricity and power, the entire Mindanao will be in the mercy of the Bangsamoro.”

Lobregat also mentioned some of the problematic and/or unconstitutional provisions of the BBL. Lobregat ended his speech by saying “Yes I am for peace, but not for appeasement at the expense of the Republic.”

After Lobregat’s presentation, Senator Marcos also presented his views on the BBL where he also agreed with Lobregat on many issues.  An open forum/press conference was also held after the presentations. — Jubels Santos